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Suoniemi, Samppa ; Meyer-Waarden, Lars ; Munzel, Andreas (2017)

RESEARCH QUESTION Big data may significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the firm's marketing capabilities. However, firms must overcome technological, skill-based and organisational challenges to become data-driven. Academic research has not empirically investigated how strategic big data resources, and to what extent, influence strategic marketing capabilities and, by extension, firm performance. The primary objective of this research is to remedy this crucial knowledge gap. METHOD & DATA We employed a survey study methodology and administered online questionnaires for data collection. Our sampling frame focuses on strategic business units (SBUs) in large (>1000 employees), US-based, B2C manufacturing and service firms who have invested in big data technologies to support marketing decision making. Using a commercial research panel provider, we targeted senior marketing executives in SBUs across a range of B2C industries. The survey was sent to senior marketing executives and 301 usable responses were received in return to form the final sample. Partial Least Squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was used as the primary analysis method. KEY CONTRIBUTIONS The study makes two important theoretical contributions with managerial relevance. Firstly, this study makes a novel theoretical contribution with the parsimonious conceptualisation of big data resources (BDR). While all three dimensions (big data technology resources, big data analytics skills, organisational big data resources) are necessary and distinct facets of BDR, big data analytics skills are most important in enhancing marketing capabilities (MC). Based on these findings, we advise managers to ensure that all aspects of the firm’s overall big data asset are sufficient. Second, the results show that MC fully mediates the relationship between BDR and firm performance, indicating that BDR is a source of competitive advantage when leveraged in complementary marketing processes. We therefore urge managers to ensure that big data resources are properly aligned with the firm’s marketing processes. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS In this paper, we posit that strategic big data resources (BDR) play a key role in improving strategic marketing capabilities (MC) to achieve competitive advantage. Empirical findings from a survey of 301 senior marketing executives, representing large US-based firms in B2C industries, support the proposed model. The results highlight that BDR, encompassing technological, human and organizational IT resources, is a critical antecedent of MC. The findings also show that BDR is a source of competitive advantage when leveraged by MC.
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